From kindergartners to grad students, roughly 76 million Americans are heading back to the classroom this month--but not before they hit the mall. According to the National Retail Federation, parents shell out a whopping $54.1 billion on back-to-school gear, making it a retail season second only to Christmas. The economic downturn has taken a bite out of that apple, but deep discounts and tax holidays may give this season a boost. We'll do the math:
1%-How much retail sales are expected to grow during the 2009 back-to-school season
$3.7 billion-How much parents will spend on new school shoes
$594.24- The average amount spent on back-to-school stuff for each child
3,800,000,000- The number of wooden pencils sold per year
$11.60 per hour- How much the lunch lady takes home (plus Sloppy Joes)
25%- Percentage of college students majoring in business, despite it all
$50,758- The average teacher's salary in the U.S.
15- The number of states offering back-to-school sales tax holidays
Jason Daley lives and writes in Madison, Wisconsin. His work regularly appears in Popular Science, Outside and other magazines.